1. Hazardous Substances: An Introduction

1.1  Standard

Chemicals are present in every workplace, from the cleaning chemicals being used to the industrial manufacturing processes, and welding fumes.

Generally, a hazardous substance is one which may pose a risk to the health of anyone coming into contact with it in the workplace.  The contact may be in the production, handling,storage, transport or disposal of the substance.

All chemicals pose a risk to the health and safety of persons in the workplace to some extent and for this reason there are some basic requirements in the Work Health and Safety legislation.

Hazardous substances have the potential to harm the health and safety of people at the workplace. Control of Hazardous Substances includes a Hazardous Substances Register, training for people exposed to hazardous substances, material safety data sheets, and risk assessments on the use of the substances.

The University is making efforts to eliminate, substitute or reduce the amount of and exposure to hazardous substances in the workplace. If it is not possible to find a suitable substitute for a hazardous substance, all safety precautions must be used to manage the substance.

1.2 Scope

These standards and procedures apply to all employees, students, contractors and visitors while they are on University property.

A hazardous substance does not include:

a) lead within the meaning of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011, Lead;  or
b) a substance containing a disease causing organism;  or
c) a radioactive substance;  or
d) a substance used at a workplace for personal or sanitary use not related to a work activity.

1.3  Application

A systematic approach to selecting control measures for the management of hazardous substances is recommended.  This approach is referred to as the hierarchy of hazard control and involves the selection of the most appropriate control measures for the particular hazard. The following group of control measures are available:

  1. Elimination
  2. Substitution
  3. Isolation
  4. Engineering controls
  5. Administrative
  6. Personal protective equipment

When a control measure is being chosen, it is important to begin at the top of the list and work down until the most appropriate control measure is selected.  The nearer to the top of the list a control measure is, the more effective it will be.

Category 4 Delegates of work areas where hazardous substances are used are required by the legislation to:

  • obtain from a manufacturer or supplier a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for any hazardous substances used in the workplace;
  • list all hazardous substances in the cost centre SDS register;
  • ensure adequate labelling of all substances used in the workplace;
  • carry out risk assessments on all hazardous substances or processes in the workplace;
  • control exposure to hazardous substances;
  • provide employees and others who are likely to be exposed to a hazardous substance with training in its safe handling;
  • provide health surveillance where necessary;
  • undertake regular monitoring of the management of hazardous substances; and
  • maintain all records.

For more information on these requirements, refer to any of the following sections:

  • Safety Data Sheets
  • Records and Registers
  • Purchasing
  • Labelling
  • Storage
  • Placarding and Signs
  • Waste Disposal
  • Transport
  • Emergencies and spills
  • Risk Assessment
  • Training
  • Health Surveillance
  • Monitoring
  • Chemical Weapons Convention
  • Environment
  • Other Hazards

1.4  USQSafe Contact

Manager, USQSafe

1.5 Status

Published October 1998
Reviewed October 2009
Reviewed October 2012

1.6  References

Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld)
Workplace Health and Safety Regulation 2011 (Qld)
Hazardous Chemicals Code of Practice 2003